Yoshi’s Island was a pleasant surprise when it was released late into the Super Nintendo’s life cycle. Even with the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation on the horizon, Mario’s trusty dinosaur steed did a lot to impress. The technically impressive platformer was full of collectibles and egg throwing mechanics, all drenched in a colorful aesthetic.
After some hands-on time with the upcoming Yoshi’s New Island on 3DS, it’s apparent Nintendo is trying to recapture the magic of the original. The new island will definitely strike some gamers as quite similar to the old one. And though initially it might not share that old-school difficulty, some new mechanics provide some fresh and fun entertainment.
Yoshi’s New Island tasks the herd of dinosaurs and Baby Mario with rescuing Baby Luigi after a stork carrying the infants was intercepted by the Magikoopa Kamek. Yoshi will eat enemies to create throwable eggs that ricochet across levels. Enemies familiar to the Mario and Yoshi franchises return. Yoshi is even able to transform into vehicles again. Elements that were done in the original make their return here with a 3DS sheen.
Though given a limited amount of time to fully experiment with eggs, it looks as if they will again be an integral part of item collecting and level exploration. Levels are peppered with long lines of coins and hidden clouds to hit. A normal Yoshi’s Island player might require a few flutter jumps to reach a full stash of coins or a hidden item. But any experienced vet will tell you that pulling off egg trick shots is the way to go. A well-placed egg can shave a lot of time off a level. It can also look really cool. New Island doesn’t force players to use trick shots, yet proves the deeper mechanics are still a vital part of the experience.
Yoshi transforming into an adorable vehicle is nothing new. The ones encountered during my playthrough came across as bonus stages. As a kart, Yoshi moved in the direction the 3DS was tilted while collecting coins. He moved the same as a drill with a button tap drilling through rocks. Rather than moving the action forward, it was an opportunity to get some extra lives. Hopefully further uses of these transformations make for good puzzles rather than mere distraction.
Mega Eggdozers have been given a good amount of coverage in trailers for the game. Yoshi can swallow up an enormous enemy and produce a giant egg that tears through anything in its path. It might seem like a gimmick but is used sparingly enough to be quite fun. Mega Eggdozers’ first introduction is harmless enough. Then one is used to break past barriers and run over enemies while it gobbles up coins. The player can sit back and watch the destruction or keep up with the egg before it destroys a platform used to reach a distant item. A metal Eggdozer can be used to let Yoshi navigate underwater sections, adding another use to the item.
Yoshi drills and giant eggs might seem like a lot of unnecessary filler but they are merely small sections of very large levels. Because they are filled with so much to do, levels in New Island are packed with a lot of secrets and obstacles. Many items are obscured behind walls and not always easily reached. Opening doors can lead to diverging paths while items that are just in view beg for players to figure out how to get to them. And keep in mind, this was just the opening part of the game before everything had been introduced.
Not Just for Kids
Yoshi’s New Island, like some other Nintendo games, has a tendency to skew towards younger players. This might be most evident in the music and visuals of the game. Without a doubt, New Island looks great. The crayon/colored pencil aesthetic is more in line with Yoshi’s Story than the original Yoshi’s Island. Yoshi even makes his adorable coos and the music is as playful as ever. Yet this is par for the course in the Yoshi franchise. The cute world evokes fun while tucking the challenge away for those invested in searching for it.
Is it easy? Sometimes. Plenty of deaths results in the game offering silver and golden wings as a helping hand to become invincible or fly across a level. But New Island isn’t a breeze. Levels ping pong between difficulties. This becomes even more evident when trying to 100 percent a level. Good fluttering and egg throwing skills are required to nab hard to reach coins. Platforming elements get tougher as Yoshi needs to fly or bounce across multiple enemies. Screw up too many egg throws and you will be left with no way to attack or hit distant objects.
For a 3DS incarnation of one of the most beloved SNES titles, Yoshi’s New Island has big shoes to fill. It has to incorporate some of its more extraneous elements into legitimate puzzles and challenges. Early levels present enough difficultly to familiarize players with the game. Whether than can be maintained over the entire game shouldn’t be too hard if levels remain varied enough. Yoshi has proved to be cute and capable in the past. This new journey into old territory might be worthwhile too.
Yoshi’s New Island release on March 14 for the Nintendo 3DS.